British granny on benefits reveals cannabis growhouse

British granny on benefits reveals cannabis factory

When it comes to the illegal drug industry in Britain, it appears there is a new, unexpected generation of people getting involved.

A Birmingham grandmother, who takes disability benefits, is seen boasting of her cannabis growhouse in a new documentary from VICE and she says she can make hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

And, she says, drugs dealers are increasingly recruiting people like her - so-called 'groppers' - as their age means they are less likely to come under suspicion.

"Groppers don't get caught - groppers don't go to prison," she says. "It's less likely for them to think that a woman is a drug grower."

"So three kids with one dependent going to university in September, so it finances me, it finances the kids, and it finances my immediate family."

The woman's face is obscured during the 20-minute film, which forms part of a VICE series on drugs in the UK. But she explains how she uses grow-lamps and lines the rooms with reflective sheeting to create a greenhouse atmosphere.

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She also tells presenter Matt Shea that she has six rooms, each containing a dozen or more plants, which can sell for £1,000 each. All she has to worry about, she says, is keeping the electricity bill for her grow-lamps down.

"Rig your electric, where the meter itself can stop, or if you're next-door to an empty house, rig it up to next-door and cover the room so that the light is not detected," she explains.

But it's not all plain sailing, with the documentary revealing that criminal gangs are now using drones with heat-seeking equipment to find cannabis factories in ordinary houses - and then steal the crop.

The government is gradually relaxing its attitude to cannabis, with MPs recently calling for it to be made legal when used for medical reasons such as chronic pain and anxiety.

The parliamentary group said it should be placed in the same category as steroids and sedatives, allowing doctors to prescribe it.

"Cannabis works as a medicine for a number of medical conditions. The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a growing number of countries and US states to legalise access to medical cannabis," commented committee co-chair Baroness Molly Meacher.

"Against this background, the UK scheduling of cannabis as a substance that has no medical value is irrational."

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Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes
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Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes

In May, Paul Robert Benson, a 24-year-old from Lurgan, stole groceries from his local supermarket. He might have got away without being identified, if he hadn’t decided to wear a Manchester United top with 'Benson 22' written on the back.

The judge sentencing him to 12 months probation said that he might as well have had a neon sign on his back.

In January, Scott Tinsley, a 38-year-old from Cobridge in Staffordshire, was jailed for 40 months after admitting burglary.

He broke into a property in the middle of the night, took electrical items, and put them in a garden a few doors down. However, he then started feeling a bit peckish, so he popped back to the property to make himself a snack. Then he promptly fell asleep - and was discovered by the homeowners in the morning.

In September 2014, a drunk burglar in the Chinese city of Suqian, talked himself into a corner.

He broke into a fifth floor flat on the mistaken assumption that it was empty, and was quickly caught by the owner’s ten-year-old daughter. When she asked what he was doing there, he decided his best defence was to say that he was Superman, and was about to fly back to his secret headquarters.

She told him to prove it, so the burglar stripped to his underwear and jumped out of the window. He told police from his hospital bed that it had seemed to make sense when he was drunk.

In July 2014, Stewart James Wright, a 37-year-old from Middlesbrough, thought he’d stumbled across the perfect crime.

He saw the door open at a student house, so wandered in and simply picked up their 42-inch-TV. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't really thought through his getaway plan.

He’d travelled to the area by bike, and was stopped by police cycling along a nearby road, trying to balance the TV on the handlebars. He was on bail at the time for stealing a bike.

In June 2014, Jamie Neil, a 41-year-old from Bethel in Cornwall, was jailed for robbing a petrol station in St Austell.

His plan to disguise himself by putting a plastic bag over his head would have worked better if he hadn't chosen a completely transparent one.

In June 2014, Nigel Ball, a 52-year-old from Wakefield, was found guilty of stealing a fish tank from a pet shop. He was caught after going back to the store to buy fish to put in it, and when staff asked him what sort of tank he had, he pointed to the type he had just stolen.

He had to complete a form with his contact details in order to take the fish, so police tracked him down to his home where they found the stolen tank.

In October 2013, a man from Perth tried to rob a corner shop, and was foiled by his trousers.

He took the till, and tried to run away with it, but his trousers were so loose they kept falling down. In the end he was forced to drop the till so he could hang onto his trousers. In the confusion he also dropped his knife and a pair of gloves, and a police dog used them to track him down. He was jailed for three and a half years.

In February 2013, a man in the Washington suburb of Laurel concocted a flawed plan to rob a bank.

His big mistake was failing to bring a bag, so he dropped the cash on the floor. He stopped to pick it up and put it in an open umbrella. Unfortunately for him, while he was held up collecting the money, the police deflated the tires on his car.

He tried to escape on foot, but slipped on a patch of ice and banged his head: at which point he gave up.

In January 2008, a man from Louisiana decided to rob a seafood restaurant. He forgot to take a disguise, so he picked up a bucket that was lying nearby and put it on his head.

The slight drawback to his disguise was that he wasn’t able to see, so he kept blundering into thing. He also had to keep lifting the bucket up to see where he was going. The security camera was therefore able to glimpse his face, and the man was identified, arrested and charged.

In September 2011, a woman from Manchester tried to steal several hundreds of pounds worth of booze from Asda in Oldham.

She loaded up the trolley, and walked out of the shop without paying. She managed to get to her car and load it up before staff caught up with her.

Sadly for her, when she jumped in the car to make her getaway, she realised she had run out of petrol. She was caught trying to push the car into the petrol station.

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